Telecom operators in India are struggling very hard to pay off their AGR(Adjusted Gross Revenue) debts but that is not stopping Bharti Airtel from improving and expanding its 4G coverage. The Indian-firm has just signed a contract worth of crores (₹) with Finish network equipment manufacturer Nokia.
Airtel also plans to expand and upgrade its network in nine circles-across India, including rural areas. The equipment that are used in these locations were provided by Nokia. Hence, once again, the company howevermakes a deal with the Finland based corporation for modernising them.
Nokia was the original 4G equipment-provider for Airtel in 9 circles – Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, West-Bengal excluding Kolkata, Odisha, Mumbai, Maharashtra, Kerala & UP East. This deal in 2016 was-estimated at $500, perhaps, the exact cost of the new contract is an unknown at the moment.
In addition to Nokia, Airtel has as well confirmed to be in talks with other vendors like Ericsson, Huawei, and ZTE, who have provided the equipment to the telco in certain circles earlier.
Recently, Airtel welcomed the bids (RFP Request For Proposal) for Tamil Nadu circle, which is recently served by Huawei. On the other-hand, the telco replaced Huawei with Ericsson for 4G-expansion and modernisation in Rajasthan for services like-VoLTE.
At present, the Chinese telecom companies such as the ZTE and the Huawei handle 3 circles each for Airtel. Whereas, Ceragon, an Israeli company was however given a contract last week by Airtel to expand 4G-networks in rural areas.
Airtel is expanding its 4G-coverage in rural areas to compete Reliance Jio, the firm’s main rival. In March, the telco however revealed its plans to add 22,000 to 26,000 4G sites across the country. This will not only help in improving the coverage in rural areas but will also support data demand surge in urban areas.